This is a sponsored post for Ontario Apple Growers. As always, all opinions are my own.
I remember the first time that I had a chelsea bun. My mom bought me one from a bakery that was in one of the malls in Barrie. I absolutely loved it. I always called it a cinnamon bun but I think that most people consider the ones with that white icing all over it to be cinnamon buns. I don’t eat those ones. My cinnamon buns, or chelsea buns as I learned they are called while watching The Great British Bake Off, always have a gooey brown sugar or caramel topping. Ontario Apple Growers asked me to create a dessert recipe and my mind wandered to where I thought of changing up my cinnamon bun recipe to include apples and a luscious caramel topping. I used Cortland apples in this recipe because they are fantastic baking apples that also happen to be my favourite eating apple.
I was recently offered the chance to go visit an apple farm in Norfolk County by Ontario Apple Growers and to go see the Norfolk Fruit Growers Association where the apples are processed to ship to consumers. When we were visiting the farm, there were a few revelations but the one that sticks out the most was about regular old apple juice. One of the farmers told us that Canada does not produce apple juice concentrate. At all. So that means that if you buy apple juice that says it is from concentrate it is not from Canadian apples. My key takeaway from this is to keep a close eye on the labels of the products I purchase.
When I buy apple juice I just make sure that the juice isn’t from concentrate and then have a look to see that it is a product of Canada. Because I have had the opportunity to talk with farmers in Ontario several times, I trust what they produce so I also look for the Foodland Ontario label so that I know that I am getting an Ontario product. But please, don’t just take my word for it if you have questions or are skeptical about the standards in Ontario farming. There are many resources that give information on farming in Ontario. A great one to check out is Farm & Food Care Ontario. Internet information is all well and good, but if you have concerns about farming then you really should go and talk to a farmer. We all spend too much time online (as I sit typing a blog post), and talking with a human being who is passionate about their life’s work will do you a world of good.
There are a few notes about this recipe. I used dulce de leche as the caramel topping for these chelsea buns because I adore it. It is easy to make and my preferred method is to do it in the crock pot by pouring sweetened condensed milk into 250 ml wide mouth mason jars. I then fill the crock pot up with hot water until just before it touches the lid of the jar and I set the crock pot on ‘high’ for four hours. You can boil the can of sweetened condensed milk but there are several reasons I don’t like doing that, but if you want to do it that way, you do you. There is a much easier way to do this of course, and that is to buy dulce de leche already made. I know that Eagle Brand makes it and it is right next to the regular sweetened condensed milk on the shelf in the grocery store. Ah, so many ways to enjoy the delicious indulgence of dulce de leche. Get a hold of some one way or another and spread it on thick to these apple laden chelsea buns.
If you really fancy a decadent dessert, pop a scoop of ice cream on top of one of these chelsea buns and go to bed happy.
Yields 1 dozen
4 hrPrep Time
30 minCook Time
4 hr, 30 Total Time
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 cups peeled and diced apples, such as Cortland
- 4 tbsp butter, divided
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup dulce de leche (see notes on how to make it - or simply use store bought)
- NOTE: If you are going to make your own dulce de leche then start it at least an hour or two before you begin making the chelsea buns. Store bought dulce de leche or your favourite caramel sauce would work perfectly well here if that is easier.
- Measure flour into a small bowl and set it aside. This will help make sure you don't add too much which would give you a stiff dough.
- Mix the warm water, 1 tsp of sugar and yeast together in small bowl and let sit for five minutes to bloom the yeast.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (see notes for how to make this without a mixer), add the buttermilk, eggs, butter, sugar and salt.
- Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast mixture. You may have to scrape the sides down so that the flour blends in.
- When you have a sticky, uniform looking mixture, start adding the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time. This will take a few minutes. When you have about 1/4 cup of flour left in the bowl, slow the mixer down to minimum and just sprinkle the flour in until you get a ball that can be turned out on a floured counter or board without it being a sticky mess. You may have 1/4 cup of flour left. Use that to knead the dough on the board.
- With the dough on the floured surface, sprinkle more flour on the dough and knead the dough for two or three minutes. You will use almost all the flour but you may need a bit more or less, depending on the size of your eggs, or humidity in your home. The dough is ready to be placed in a greased bowl when it springs back and isn't sticky when kneaded.
- Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm, place for 1 1/2 hours to rise.
- When the dough has doubled in size and when you poke your figure in the centre the hole stays, it is ready to be punched down and rolled out.
- Line a 13" x 9" cake pan with parchment paper leaving enough on the edges so that the chelsea buns can be lifted out easily on the paper. If you don't line the pan, the buns will likely stick to the pan.
- While the dough is rising peel and dice the apples.
- Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a frying pan and sautee the 3 cups of apples for 10 to 15 minutes to soften them and get rid of the excess juice. When the apples start to take on a little colour then they are done. Put them in a bowl until you are ready to spread on the rolled out dough.
- When the dough has proofed for 1 1/2 hours, roll the dough out onto a floured board using a rolling pin so that it is 14" x 18".
- Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and spread it over the dough, leaving a 1" perimeter around the edge.
- Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle it evenly over the buttered dough.
- Spread the cooked apples over the cinnamon and brown sugar as evenly as you can.
- Starting with the long side closest to you, begin rolling the dough away from you. Use your fingers to make sure the dough stays tight and even as you roll it.
- With the seam on the board, cut the log into 3 even pieces using a serrated knife. Then cut each third into 4 even pieces.
- Holding the seam of each piece, put each piece evenly spaced on the parchment paper on the pan. For the two end pieces, place them cut side down in the pan.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it rise for a second time for 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F
- Remove the plastic wrap after 45 minutes and bake for 30-33 minutes.
- While still hot from the oven, spread as much dulce de leche or your favourite caramel sauce on top of each bun. About 3/4 cup will give each bun a generous amount but you can always use more.
TO MAKE DULCE DE LECHE - Some people like to make it in the can of sweetened condensed milk but I like to pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 1/2 pint (250 ml) mason jar. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into the mason jar, put the lid on and put it in a crock pot. Fill the crock pot/ slow cooker with hot water until just below the lid. Cook the sweetened condensed milk on high for four hours. I usually make several jars at a time.
IF NOT USING A STAND MIXER If not using a stand mixer, you can mix the dough to a shaggy stage with a strong wooden spoon. Mix all the wet ingredients together the same as the instructions and then mix the 1 1/2 cups flour in with the wooden spoon. Pour in the melted butter and mix vigorously until you get a thick sticky dough. Slowly add more flour and stir with the wooden spoon. When it becomes very difficult to use the spoon, start using your hands to mix the flour in while the dough is still in the bowl. When it becomes less sticky, turn the dough out onto a well floured surfaced and knead the remaining flour into the dough as directed in the main instructions.